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Everything Your Brand Needs to Know about Instagram Story Ads

Hélène Heath
March 3, 2019
Last Updated On
March 24, 2023

More than ever, social user's head to their favorite platforms to be entertained by quick, snappy, engaging content like Instagram Stories — and Instagram story ads are a great way to share entertaining content and help drive conversions. 

In 2024, Instagram story ad revenue reached 20.03 million dollars, up from 15.95 million in 2022 — if the upward trend since 2019 is any indication, ad revenue will continue to rise. 

If you want to incorporate paid content to your existing social strategy, Instagram story ads are one of the most effective ways to do it. 

In this article, we discuss:

  • What are Instagram story ads?,
  • How to advertise on Instagram Stories,
  • Instagram Ad specs,
  • Frequently asked questions about Instagram story ads.  

What are Instagram Story Ads? 

Instagram story ads are promotional, paid Instagram Stories that appear for 24 hours, and are just one type of Instagram marketing tool at your disposal. These ads appear while users watch Instagram Stories. These can appear independently of accounts you follow, and are largely influenced by the content you interact with most on the platform. 

How to Advertise in Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories ads need an Instagram business account to run. Before you run your ad, you should decide on the objective you’d like to reach. There are six objectives for Instagram story ads, which are: 

  • Awareness,
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • Leads
  • App promotion
  • Sales

Once you determine which objective you’d like your ad to work towards, go to the Meta Ads Manager. 

From there: 

  • Select ‘Create’ and your objective.
  • Populate campaign details > Select ‘Advantage+ placements * If selecting Manual placements, check ‘Stories’ box under Instagram subheading.
  • Select your ad’s budget and schedule.
  • Choose your ad layout — for Instagram ad Stories, this means either a single image, single video, or a carousel.
  • Add any relevant stickers, text overlay. If using a static photo, try using Stories templates, which sizes your single photos into the vertical story ads format. 
  • Select confirm — your ad is ready to run. 

Instagram Ad Specs

While you can use a range of sizes for Instagram ads, it’s best to use dimensions that will make the most of the space available. For Instagram Stories, these specs are: 

  • Photo and video ratio: 9:16 
  • Video file size: 4GB
  • Video file format: .mp4 or .mov
  • Video length: 120 seconds/2 minutes
  • Video codecs: H.264, VP8
  • Audio codecs: AAC, Vorbis
  • Photo file type: 30MB
  • Photo dimensions: 1080x1920 
  • Photo file format: .jpg or .png

Instagram Story Ads Tips

Want to make the most of your story ads? There’s no shortage of Instagram ad tips out there, but here is some additional advice to make the most of your paid strategy and create eye-catching ads that convert. 

Experiment with Content

How does UGC perform compared to stylized ads with a script and storyboard? Analyze your performance with a tool that provides social media insights that tell you where your biggest successes — and opportunities lie. Don’t be afraid to try different things like working with brand ambassadors and influencers, lo-fi casual content, and more.

Have a Clear Call-to-Action

Yes, swiping up is the actual action involved — but why should the user swipe up on your advertisement? If you’re demonstrating a new product, make it clear whether the product is available for purchase or if you’re simply teasing a new launch. If users think they can purchase a product and can’t, it could hinder their impression of your brand when it comes to converting later. 

Use Interactive Elements to Increase Engagement 

Things like Instagram polls, stickers, and Q&A’s are a great way to increase engagement and direct traffic to your website. For users, this is a lot easier (and quicker) than leaving a comment, and can help you gauge who’s interested in your brand but not converting — yet. Take this data back to your team to refine your strategy and find new opportunities. 

Make Use of the Video Format

While you can share photos to Instagram Stories, there’s a lot of visual space to take up — plus, on average, Reels content has 0.45% higher engagement than static content. While Stories aren’t the exact same as Reels, it’s notable that moving video content is more attractive to users than static videos. If photos perform better for your brand that’s excellent, but don’t lose an opportunity by sticking to a static format. 

Segment your Audience

Instagram allows users to segment their audience into custom groupings. This is great to target specific social media demographics with your campaigns or for re-marketing. Instagram’s audience segments include: 

  • Customer file: Target existing customers with customer files.
  • Website traffic: List of users who visited your website (or took action with Facebook pixels). 
  • App activity: Create a list of people who used your app.
  • Offline activity: Create a list of people who’ve interacted with your business by phone, in-story, or other offline channels.
  • Engagement: Users who engage with your content on Instagram or Facebook.

How Dash Hudson Enhances your Instagram Story Ads 

Dash Hudson’s Instagram Story Studio filters your best earned and owned content, so you can surface the visual content that will perform the best — plus, there are templates, fonts, and other custom design options so you can easily schedule and manage your visual strategy, A/B test ad formats, and measure your campaign results.  

Clothing brand Revolve uses Dash Hudson Story Insights and Templates to boost their average Instagram story ad engagement by 471%, and see a 9X return on ad spend. Style brand Who What Wear saw similar improvements in their Instagram story ad results, seeing a 19% increase in cost per result, and an overall boost in readership and engagement. 


How long are Instagram story ads? 

Instagram story ads can be a maximum of 120 seconds, or 2 minutes.

How much are Instagram story ads? 

The price of Instagram ads varies depending on a range of factors, but they typically cost anywhere between $0.70 to $1.00 per click. 

Are Instagram story ads worth it? 

Yes, Instagram story ads are worth it for most brands. If you have an Instagram marketing strategy and want to incorporate paid ads, Instagram Stories are one of the best places to do it. The benefits of Instagram story ads include in-app shopping, increased engagement, brand awareness, and reaching new customers.

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